Like this site? Help us to make it better.


AA scraps 'road tax' references on its website in victory for I Pay Road Tax campaign

Misleading phrase replaced by 'car tax' on motoring organisation's website...

I Pay Road, the website founded by Carlton Reid two years ago to help correct the erroneous assumption on the part of many motorists that they pay for the roads they drive on through something called ‘road tax,’ has won another battle in its efforts to rid the world of the misleading term, with motoring organisation the AA now agreeing to use either the correct term, Vehicle Excise Duty, or the words ‘car tax,’ instead.

Road construction and maintenance is paid for out of general taxation rather than the monies raised through Vehicle Excise Duty, and as the I Pay Road Tax website points out, the term ‘road tax’ itself was phased out in 1937.

Winston Churchill had first expressed concerns about official use of the phrase a dedicate earlier, saying that “It will be only a step from this for them [motorists] to claim in a few years the moral ownership of the roads their contributions have created."

AA President Edmund King was an early fan of I Pay Road Tax, and the keen cyclist revealed early last year that he owned one of its jerseys, which he described as “ironic, iconic and probably iconoclastic.”

Now, the organisation that he heads has joined others such as The Plain English campaign, Which?Car magazine, the DVLA, and the Post Office in consigning the term to the linguistic scrapheap.

As before and after screenshots on the I Pay Road Tax website show, the relevant page on the AA website has now had the references to ‘road tax’ that sit alongside mentions of Vehicle Excise Duty changed to ‘car tax.’

While to some the I Pay Road Tax campaign may seem little more than a pedantic insistence on use of the correct term and nothing more, there is at its core a very serious issue.

As is explained on the campaign's website, “The distinction between ‘road tax’ and VED is very important, much more important than most people think.

“It’s possible that lives have been lost because of the use of an antique phrase. Some motorists believe ‘road tax’ pays for roads so cyclists, as freeloaders at best, tax-dodgers at worst, shouldn’t really be on “their” roads at all.

“This sometimes leads to ugly and dangerous aggression against cyclists, with some motorists taking the ownership of the roads fallacy a little too literally.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Latest Comments